Monday, September 22, 2008

You just never know

When I die, I want “Just in case” written on my gravestone. (OK, I know this is blogger's licence as I have previously stated that I want my ashes chucked off the cliffs at Tynemouth Priory, but humour me.) I’m the type who puts gorgeous soaps and other pampering gifts to one side, and continues to use the bulk bought bath gel and shampoo. Why? It’s not like you can use soap for anything other than washing yourself. I don’t even have a dreadful skin allergy that dictates the brand I use. (OK, this is also untrue - I am off to the dermatologist on Friday to see about a very red and itchy left eyelid.)

Although I grew up in England, it wasn’t the Blitz and I didn’t endure the years of rationing that my parents and grandparents talked about. Psychologists might suggest that I don’t think myself worthy of such extravagances, but I put it down to the Virgo in me. The organized worrier (I call it "prepared") who continually plans for some dreadful event in the future, such as running out of soap. My children seem to survive this dreaded event on a weekly basis, heaven knows.

Only this morning I was wrapping a baby gift I’d just bought. I went to my stock of beautiful gift bags, pulled out a gorgeous baby-themed one – and then hesitated. “I should really save this”, said Virgo. For what – a member of royalty? A visiting Hollywood A-lister? It’s not that I didn’t think my friend and her baby warranted such a gorgeous bag. Indeed, I would probably have gone and hand-made something even more fabulous. It’s just this need always to have things in stock “just in case”. I know it’s ridiculous. Even more so because at my age, not a lot of my friends are even having babies, so the gorgeous bag might otherwise never see the light of day.

If you were to peek into the closets/cupboards in my house, you'd see nine large, empty juice bottles. You see, if you cut them and sand the edges they make great bath toys; we also use them to collect coins for charity. I have been planning to give them out to friends in a fund-raising effort, but every time I leave the house I forget them. I also collect wipe boxes, large and small. They are great as drawer dividers, small toy holders, button boxes and a host of other things. We have more wipe boxes than Huggies, but I can’t throw one out “just in case” –what, the others all spontaneously combust? Another closet houses a stack of nice paper napkins. They are mainly Thanksgiving and Christmas themed, although I have a few really thick ones with “Cheers” written on them. Why are they still there? Okay, most of the time I forget about them because they are squirreled away, but even when I remember, I shove them back in their place “just in case”. As we all know, Thanksgiving and Christmas have a tendency to sneak up un-announced from time to time!

Like many others, I have the ornate wedding china, which has been used about three times in our 18 year marriage. I would love to bring it down and eccentrically use it morning, noon and night, but with three kids rampaging around the house, and the price per place-setting doubling every year, I just can't take that step. The “just in case” madness even extends to food. In my pantry right now, is a fairly high end jar of raspberry conserve. I actually bought it for my family’s consumption (in a weak, Jilly Cooperesque moment) but it very quickly occurred to me that I might be short of a hostess gift in the future, so I’m holding on to it. The fact that I have the social life of a cloistered nun apparently makes no difference to the Virgoan hoarder in me.

So from now on, I'm going to try to use all the "gorgeous" stuff I have on a more regular basis. After all, we can't take it with us. I may need cognitive behavioural therapy to achieve this, but by god I'm going to try. Knowing my luck however, I'll break out in a full body rash from the posh soaps I have stored for too long.

27 comments:

  1. Your post shed bright shafts of light onto my mother's hoarding behaviour, I thought it WAS because she grew up during the war and rationing!!! Who knew - LOL.

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  2. I agree with you. Gift bags are the spawn of Satan!
    I always pull them out, look at them, decide to save them for later, shove them back in the drawer... ad infinitem. Until one day, I pull them out yet again and find that they have suddenly become too rumpled and tatty to use! How DOES that happen? Grrr!

    However, the answer to the wedding china problem is easy. If you like it, use it. When you return to England you can buy it all for pence on Ebay.co.uk. Seriously!

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  3. On a practical note. Since I am a Tynemouth girl born and bred, am I in your will paperwork to be the one who chucks the urn off Tynemouth pier post demise?If so, you can be the one who rows into the middle of Lake Windermere with mine.
    Exchange is no robbery...

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  4. Ah Jo, you don't get off that easily. I said "Ashes" not urn. Now, is the offer still open?

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  5. We decided early on to use our wedding china rather than keep it 'for best'. So far we've had few breakages, although the Littleboys have done their best and are now consigned to plastic plates. Still regret buying the totally impractical silver plate cutlery that we hardly ever use and sits in a drawer getting tarnished, though.

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  6. The Special One keeps buying toilet roll, as if there is going to be some kind of nuclear winter in which the thing we will need most is nice double-ply paper. And she doesn't even have 'being a Virgo' as an excuse.

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  7. I used to have this problem with my dining room. We hardly ever used the place. It just sat there closed off from the rest of the tiny house by two double doors. Meanwhile our family was growing. In the end I pushed the table up to one end, opened the double doors and it linked nicely to our living room and got used every day!

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  8. We have the same problem with Christmas cards. Each year, I forget we have any, go out and buy more, never use them, and bob's your uncle, a christmas card mountain! This year I will use them all up. (Though maybe not the really yucky cutesy variety pack ones) You heard it here first...

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  9. That's so funny you saying that about soap because I have 'best soap' in the house. What a ridiculous thing eh? Best soap. I once had a hissy fit when the children tried to unwrap a £12 bar of organic/made by virgin maidens/rip off soap to use in the bath and stopped myself and realised that I had clearly gone mad and sat and watched as they took great delight in having a bubble fight with my fancy pants soap.

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  10. haha. Very funny post because I do the same. Only the other day when I was cleaning the bathroom and dusting a box of Molton Brown soaps did I think, why the hell am I letting these collect dust? I have brought these bloody soaps from my old house to this house and we have been here three years. The soaps are older than my children. I was about to bin them. But then thought what a waste. So they are back on the shelf in the bathroom collecting more dust for the next five years. Along with some lovely L'Occitane bubble bath I got for my birthday three years ago. Too nice to use...

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  11. My whole family hordes too! I don't, however.

    Fun post, btw.

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  12. Oh yes - the wedding china and the silver cutlery. One of these days I'm going to go out and buy more place settings of the cutlery so that there's enough of it to use daily. And, at the same time, transplant it from the posh box that's too awkward to get out every time into a nice, sensible drawer.

    And I do that with bags and then find I've saved them so long they're too grotty to use.

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  13. I'm afraid since the trauma of my divorce and a hideous story about a girl who died and had saved all this gorgeous underwear for special occasions - turned out she only got to wear it at her funeral....I have a much more "live for the moment" attitude and I think you should use all the stuff you love everyday - what are you waiting for? ENJOY IT ALL NOW (and put all those plastic boxes in the recycling bin) xxxx

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  14. I leave Molton Brown and White Company soaps stolen from hotels in a basket in our spare room for guests...but they don't use them either! They're a bloody pain to dust!
    And I know you shouldn't save clothes for best but I don't know if I will EVER wear my "I've Waited All Life To Own A Pair Of These indulgent Choos or Louboutins" for the pre-school run. I might..but only if I can wear a badge that says "I Took Redundancy From A Job Of 15 Years In Order To Be Able To Afford These Babies".

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  15. I had a really great comment to leave about this post, but I decided to save it for later. just in case.

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  16. I don't know if it's a cultural thing or a personality thing this one. My mother-in-law carefully folds up wrapping paper from presents and re-uses it. I on the other hand am so disorganised that the prospect of a cupboard full of GIFT BAGS would send my system into shock. I usually wind up wrapping gifts in Christmas paper because it's the only stuff lying around. So, live a little and use your good china girl!

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  17. There is nothing wrong in being known by a stock-phrase such as "Just in case". My own favourite, which I wouldn't mind being remembered by is "But I was close?" x

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  18. This post made me laugh so much. Seems like we all have a bit of 'hoard' in us! Esp, over expensive soaps. I still have a Molton Brown set of minis i got from 1st class on BA when I went on a press trip to NYC, err, jeez - must be 8 years ago! kept, I think, because it is and was the only time I have travelled in such luxury and the bottle of hand lotion is so cute. It smells rancind now of course, but it has moved twice with me in the Uk and even made it across the Atlantic when we came to the USA.
    So silly really, but with each home it has pride of place in the bathroom, never to be used.
    It symbolises the life I once had....

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  19. Obviously there's more than just me who needs to adopt this new motto - Go on, use the soaps!

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  20. You're starting to worry me. I might have to call Kim & Aggie on you - those two brutish women off "How clean is your house". Stop hoarding woman! It isn't good for the soul.
    Said by a true sweeper and cleaner (my hubby is the haorder)

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  21. Oh, I'm glad I'm not the only one who does all this stuff! Makes me feel better.
    Soap stored in a drawer does help to make the clothes smell nice.
    Hope your eyelid gets fixed up with some ointment.

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  22. Maybe a little depressing, but my grandma died without using her special soaps and candles she received throughout the years. Just give the pleasure to yourself and use it...and buy more -which will probably give you even more pleasure. Enjoy!

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  23. The only way to get rid of it all is to decide to sell your house, shocking!

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  24. I think I'm going to be a "Gold" member of Ebay as we've got so much stuff. Just need to get round to doing it though. Am saving that joyous experience for a rainy day...

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  25. ...So that'll be tomorrow then...(had some wonderful weather today. What on earth is going on?)

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  26. About Tynemouth Priory - did you happen to see a BBC series called 55 Degrees North? There are some wonderful shots of the Priory in that as they "live" close by.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/55degrees/

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  27. This rang lots of bells - but since I've reorganised and done the bedrooms, and moved out all my childrens' stuff, I'm using all those lovely things too. I agree with Family Affairs, use them just because you're worth it!! M :-)

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